Despite a global pandemic, Mackage, the Montreal luxury outerwear firm, sees glimmers of hope.
The 21-year-old company has opened its fifth store in the past five months, a 3,400-square-foot flagship store at 138 Spring Street in SoHo, New York. This follows a store in Boston, a three-month pop-up at NoHo’s Showfields, which will remain open until February 15, and two outlets in Canada.
Known for its outerwear and cold-weather pieces, Mackage offers all categories, including women, men and kids, as well as its new footwear collection, at the SoHo store.
Located in an iconic building from 1890, the Mackage store was designed by Canadian interior design studio Burdifilek. It features a variety of wood and stone finishes as well as a spiral staircase imported from Italy and the largest light box of any Mackage store with an image of an iceberg flipped by Alex Cornell that spans 26 feet on 28 feet on two floors.
For the store’s opening, Mackage partnered with a group of New York artists to provide a platform to showcase their work in a rotating series of murals for six weeks on the store’s exterior windows. The first installation highlights pieces by Beau Stanton, who works in a variety of mediums and will show his completed work on the store’s exterior windows starting Friday.
Eran Elfassy, Founder and Co-Creative Head, and Elisa Dahan, Co-Creative Head, said they’ve worked on the store for over 18 months. They had to oversee the project from the Montreal head office (with a lot of FaceTime) due to the pandemic.
“Not being able to physically visit the store is so difficult. We have worked on it for so long. This is an important step for us. The SoHo store represents our new retail concept, ”said Dahan.
Mackage opened its first New York store on Mercer Street in SoHo 10 years ago, followed by many more, and that design has become obsolete. The Mercer Street store is still open but will close at the end of the lease in late February. The company also has a store at 814 Madison Avenue in New York City, which opened in November 2018.
Elfassy said they started trading for the Spring Street space in June 2019. They were drawn to the corner location (on Wooster Street) because of its visibility and proximity to luxury boutiques such as Chanel, Gucci and Celine. He also considers SoHo “the number one place to shop in the United States”
Construction began last February and the store was scheduled to open in September, but has been delayed due to COVID-19.
“We wanted to keep the charm of SoHo and the flavor of the region we are in and use our concept within these walls. It was really important to bring the true sense of SoHo’s heritage into this space, ”added Dahan.
The store, which had a smooth opening on January 9, is doing well so far. “It’s been pretty strong, given the pandemic and the fact that people are buying less in stores, we were pleasantly surprised with the results,” Dahan said.
Elfassy agreed. “The number of tourists is down, but we are getting a good response from the local consumer and people new to the brand. “
Discussing growth opportunities for the brand, Elfassy said its footwear collection, which launched in September, has got off to a good start.
“With everything that happened, we still managed to launch shoes. We launched cold weather boots, ”said Dahan. “He had an incredible reaction. This is a product that you really need right now.
They felt that there was a need in the market for a breathable, water-repellent boot made of soft leather and lined with sheepskin, so very warm, non-slip and easy to put on. The boots sell for between $ 550 and $ 650. There are four models for women and one for men. The line is sold in their own retail stores and sold to its wholesale partners.
Mackage, whose collections include leathers, downs and wools, has built a solid business with wholesale accounts that include, in North America, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Holt Renfrew, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.
The company launched a ready-to-wear capsule in its own retail stores last fall and began selling it through its wholesale accounts this spring. The capsule consists of joggers, sweatpants, sweatshirts and fleeces, in multiple colors and styles. “It’s even bigger for next fall,” Dahan said. For spring, the RTW sells for between $ 250 and $ 500 and is sold in the sportswear areas of department stores. Last year, Mackage also launched durable masks.
Selling directly to the consumer is an important part of the company’s strategy. It has 14 stores around the world, including 13 in North America and one in China, as well as a pop-up in London.
As for future stores, Mackage is looking at cities like Chicago. “Our first priority is to go where the coats are needed,” Elfassy said.
Right now, fall merchandise is sold in the new Spring Street store. The store has a spiral staircase leading to the ground floor, reserved for men, and upstairs, intended for women. There are areas in the store that tell different stories, like the history of ski clothing. The cash wrap is in black marble and is cut like an iceberg.
So far, the bestsellers have been All Black, and the brand’s Lustrous collection (bold down jackets and shiny on the outside), as well as the classic down parkas. The average retail price for outerwear in the store is $ 820.
“When people open a Mackage jacket, they’re always surprised at how technical it is. It is water repellent, windproof and breathable, ”said Elfassy.
“We are very fortunate to be in a category which is more essential,” said Dahan. “We are in a time when people want to spend more time outdoors. If people have to justify a purchase, it’s more justifiable than another fashion purchase, ”she said.
Asia is another great opportunity for Mackage. The company just had its first season in Japan, which exceeded their expectations. It has a partner in Japan and has opened around 17 pop-ups for fall 2020 in malls and concessions. He had 85 percent of sales. For two years, the company has also had a partner in China. There are nine seasonal pop-ups, including one that opened in Wuhan on the first floor of Wuhan International Plaza in early December. “It’s going very well, we are really performing well in China. Outerwear is really a strong category in Asia, ”she said.
The bestsellers have been the down, wool and leather jackets.
She attributed the strong sales to Asians who don’t travel as much and buy locally. Additionally, in 2019, they rebranded the line and upgraded their logo, which is on the arm, something they had never had before. He was in the back of the hood. “For Asia, it was very well received,” Dahan said.
Mackage uses real fur in the hoods, as well as lots of sheepskin in the collars to keep in warmth.
“The warmth that fur gives you, you can’t replace it with a synthetic. We use a lot less fur than in the past. We replace it with shearling and use other components, ”said Elfassy.
Currently, Mackage’s three largest markets are North America, Europe and China. Being a private company, the company declined to disclose its volume.
When Elfassy started the business in 1999, he said people were more careful about what they wore under their jackets than the jackets themselves. “Our goal was to change the way people think about outerwear. Outerwear is an investment. You wear it more than once and you shouldn’t compromise, ”he said.